vitamin and mineral Supplements, Prescriptions and practitioner only medicines - a balanced perspective
Vitamins and Minerals are found in foods and many of them we get enough of when we eat a balanced and varied diet.
They are not optional they are ESSENTIAL for Human biological function because the body cannot make them within itself. They act as structural elements, cofactors and coenzymes in many molecules and biochemical reactions.
The reason we eat is because we need these molecules to live.
A balanced and varied diet is the right amounts of Protein, Carbohydrates and Fats (the Macronutrients), Water and the Micronutrients – Vitamins and Minerals gained from eating all different kinds of foods daily.
These days we have a huge range of vitamin and mineral products that we can choose to supplement our diet with. They aren’t the same as getting nutrients from your food, they are processed products. Not meant to replace foods but as a supplement to your diet (daily food intake) when your body is not getting enough or when it needs more. That is why they often have that on the label and why some people scoff at the very notion of taking supplements.
The balanced perspective is that Vitamins and Minerals are essential to human life and deficiencies or low levels (status) reduce the body’s ability to perform biochemical functions that require those molecules. Yet consuming amounts over the scientifically determined Upper Limit (UL) causes another set of problems related to how the body uses, stores, transports and excretes the vitamin or mineral. At best your body will release the excess in urine as is the case with most water-soluble vitamins (the Bs and C) thus causing the much-emphasised expensive neon wee.
At worst overconsumption of Vitamins and Minerals can cause a severe adverse reaction and the ultimate demise of the life that one was trying to maintain the health of. [Aside: the authors avid HHGttG reader status shining through here.]
When buying yourself supplements stick to the dose on the label.
The risk of adverse reactions from vitamin and mineral supplements is deemed as low by the Therapeutic Goods Authority of Australia (TGA) [and equivalent regulatory bodies across the globe] if taken within the recommended guidelines and Authorised label instructions. This is why these products are listed as Aust L medicines or Food Products whereas pharmaceutical drugs and some over the counter medicines are Aust R (regulated because the risk of harm is greater).
Prescription and Practitioner Only Medicines
You’ll notice that prescription medicines don’t have a dose on the packet as the Doctor makes a clinical decision on the dose right for you. Similarly 'Practitioner Only Products’ prescribed by Natural Health Practitioners also don’t have a dose or instructions on the label because similarly these are required to be tailored to the individual and must have an affixed label with patient name, credentials and dosage instructions, as required by law via the Therapeutic Goods Act and overseen by the Therapeutic Goods Authority.
When they say Always read the Label and Follow Directions they are not kidding. Products are tested to work and be safe within the use outlined on the product or in the dose and period of use prescribed by your Health Professional. Going outside of these directions puts you at risk
Your Health Professional will prescribe your dose based on many different factors including your health status, age, weight, requirement, the clinically proven therapeutic dose, the upper limit including food sources and taking into account the other medical conditions you have and any pharmaceutical, herbal or nutritional medicines that you are taking.
If you are taking any prescription or over the counter medicine it is essential that you read the Consumer Medicines Information (CMI). It used to come as a leaflet with the medicine and now is available online: https://www.tga.gov.au/consumer-medicines-information-cmi
Supplement Safety Resources
Some other Websites to check for suitabiltiy of your medication with Nutritional Medicines:
NPS MedicineWise has searchable CMI's which list things to avoid while taking your medication
Better is the Medscape drug interaction checker which will cross reference supplemental herbs and nutrients with medications:
During your Naturopathic Consultation I will note all your medications and am able to prescribe Herbs, vitamins and Minerals that are safe to take with them. Often Foods can be a great and delicious way to increase nutrient intake and avoid any risk of interaction. Contact me, Book your session or Purchase and complete a totally online Supplement Safety Review form which will provide you with a report of current supplements to avoid or explore for optimal health.
Shairin is a Naturopath and Usui Reiki Master/Teacher with a Bachelor of Health Science in (Complementary and Alternative Medicine and Medical Systems).